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What is Hindmilk & How Is It Important For The Infant?

What is Hindmilk?

Hindmilk is the breast milk that the baby gets towards the end of the feeding. It is richer, creamier, and thicker and is high in calories and fats.(1) The color of the hindmilk is creamy white.

The milk from the breast can be categorized into foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is the milk that comes in the starting and hindmilk comes at the end.

Foremilk is more diluted and is less in fat when compared with the hindmilk. The infant in the course of full feeding consumes all the foremilk and the hindmilk.

What is Hindmilk?

As the infant feeds on the milk, the milk closest to the nipple is first accessed. As the breast produces milk the fats stick to the sides of milk-making cells, while the watery part of the milk flows easily to the nipples.

As the time between the feeds increase the milk becomes more diluted. The first milk that the baby access when they start feeding is the foremilk while milk located deeper in the breast is the hindmilk.

As the baby continues to feed they tend to pull the milk from deeper from within the fatty milk cells. This milk is fattier and calorie-dense. Longer the interval between the feed more watery the milk is.

Is Only Hindmilk Important For The Child?

The hindmilk and foremilk are not much different. It is important that the baby should be allowed to feed until they are finished.

Babies gain weight according to the milk they ingest not on the fat content of the milk. If a child feeds satisfactorily, be happy as he is getting complete nutrition.

It is good to feed the child milk to satisfaction and not think much about the foremilk and hindmilk.

How To Know If The Baby Is Getting Enough Milk Or Not?

Is the baby getting enough feed???

This is not to be worried about if the baby is gaining good weight or is having wet and dirty diapers.

Those mothers who regularly breastfeed their children are able to provide them with both foremilk and hindmilk. Those children who are fed too much on foremilk have issues with gaining weight.(2)

Sometimes there is an oversupply of milk which makes people worried if the child is getting enough or not. Continuing to breastfeed helps adjust the balance and ensures the baby gets the balance of milk that is needed.

The symptoms that make the parents worry that the child is not getting enough milk are:

  1. Gassiness that seems bothersome
  2. Loose and green bowel movements
  3. Frequent desire to breastfeed
  4. Colic-like symptoms

Importance Of Hindmilk For The Baby

Breast milk as a whole is important for the child. But in certain cases, hindmilk plays a major role.

Babies Who Are Not Gaining Weight

If you think your baby is not gaining weight properly, it gets important to consult a doctor. The doctor tracks the growth of the baby and advice any special measures to be adopted.

If you do not have enough milk supply, do not pump milk. Try and give more hindmilk to the baby. Nurse the baby on both sides until both the breast are empty.

If you find the baby is still not satisfied, there might be a need to supplement with expressed breast milk or formula milk.

Premature Babies and Babies with Health Issues

Babies with certain health issues benefit from hindmilk.

Hindmilk is higher in fats and calories and helps the premature infant gain weight.(3) It can be helpful for the infant with heart, lung, kidney and stomach problems.

How To Collect Hindmilk?

To collect hindmilk for the premature infant, you need to pump milk through a breast pump and separate foremilk from hindmilk.

When you start collecting breast milk the first milk that comes out is thin and watery. You can pump it for about 2 minutes and collect it in a different container.

Place a new collection container in the breast pump and continue pumping until the breast is empty. This milk is thicker and creamier.

Label the hindmilk and foremilk container.

Give the premature infant the one labeled as hindmilk.

Breast milk is a perfect food for the infant. It contains all the nutrients required by the baby for a successful start in life. Consult a lactation consultant if you think your baby is not gaining enough weight or if feeling that your breast milk is not satisfactorily feeding the child.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 30, 2021

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